The micro scale

Materials, Catalysts, Electrochemistry

The design of the electrosynthesis process requires in-depth knowledge of the processes involved from the atomic to the microscale to ultimately enable production processes at large scales.

Local probing of processes at the micro scale

A detailed mechanistic insight into the processes taking place at the microscale during electrosynthesis is currently lacking. To address this issue, it will be essential to locally study the intrinsic kinetics throughout in the device, whether in the solid, liquid or gas phase. We aim at a targeted research programme in this area to leverage the leading Dutch position in the development and use of in-situ and operando characterisation techniques to analyse the structural development of the key functional materials at all length scales and over long periods of time.

Rational design

The materials used in electrochemical catalytic processes have yet to be designed and optimised. We aim at a rational design approach of the key component materials. This implies the development and use of new predictive computational tools, thermodynamic analyses and analogue reasoning in order to develop new generations of catalysts, membranes, electrolytes and high-throughput experimental verification techniques.

Design for bulk

The goal of large-scale production of fuels and chemicals guides the design of the nanostructured materials involved in the e-Refinery technology. We aim at components able to maintain their uniform functionality over long timescales and under relevant process conditions, which can be produced in a scalable manner, taking into account resource availability.

Example: Bipolar membranes for optimised electrochemical engineering

Efficient solar-to-fuel devices require electrocatalyst and photoelectrode materials to operate in a common electrochemical conversion environment. However, the optimal environment for the oxidation and reduction reactions are typically not the same, posing challenges to arrive at an efficient and stable overall system. Researchers at the Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage group at TU Delft study the importance of the electrolyte pH for the activation and performance of electrocatalyst and photoelectrode materials. They separate the anode and cathode compartments by means of a bipolar membrane, so that they can separately optimise both reaction conditions. This is an attractive approach towards photoelectrochemical and electrochemical devices for highly efficient and stable solar-driven water splitting.